Top Ten

July 20, 2015

International students at Niagara claim they were denied work permits for taking online courses

More than 50 Niagara College students have sought legal representation after they were denied Canadian work permits, allegedly because they took online courses as part of their program. Ravi Jain, an immigration lawyer representing the students, says 30 of his clients have already received rejections on their work permit applications since graduating. While international students have received work permits in the past after completing Niagara’s programs, this year they say they are being refused because Citizenship and Immigration Canada considers online courses to be “distance learning.” Globe and Mail | Toronto Star

uCalgary reverses tuition increase, rescinds market modifiers

The University of Calgary’s board of governors is rolling back a 2.2% tuition increase and rescinding three market modifiers, according to Metro News. The university has not yet received the details of its Campus Alberta Grant, but it has decided to “proactively reverse the previous budgeted hikes.” Levi Nilson, President of the University of Calgary Students’ Union, praised the university, calling it a “good governance move.” The change is in response to increased funding from the province, announced last month. uCalgary has said it will continue to work closely with the province and keep students informed about how it will make use of the additional funding. Metro News

Growing number of BC students relying on food banks

The University of British Columbia’s student-run food bank might hit its second consecutive 100% increase in annual visits, according to data gathered by the school’s Alma Mater Society. This increasing demand has also been noticed at Simon Fraser University, where students have requested 2,598 emergency grocery vouchers since 2013, according to the Simon Fraser Student Society. In 2013, the University of Victoria began reporting similar increases in food bank usage. Simka Marshall, the chairwoman of the Canadian Federation of Students, says that tuition increases and the province’s growing rent costs are two primary causes for the trend. Vancouver Sun

Keyano receives $10 M grant for theatre expansion

Keyano College has received a $10 M grant from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. The money will contribute to the $40 M expansion that Keyano is planning for its theatre, which hosts community events, concerts, and dramatic performances. The expansion will include the construction of an upper deck that will boost the theatre’s seating capacity from 594 to 1,200; it will also add new studio space, an art gallery, and a bar and concession area. “The theatre truly is a hub for the community,” said Councillor Jane Stroud, who moved the motion to approve the grant. Fort McMurray Today

Put the “poly” back in polytechnic, says former uWaterloo VP

Thomas Carey, a former University of Waterloo Associate VP and current Visiting Senior Scholar at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, writes in Inside Higher Ed that polytechnic universities must build on their history of “valuing different ways of knowing” to successfully position themselves in today’s postsecondary landscape. In this sense, he advocates for a return to the “poly” or “many” aspect of these institutions’ heritage while also emphasizing the craft and professional knowledge implied in “technic.” Carey goes on to investigate what he finds to be both the positive and negative aspects of current efforts to rebrand polytechnic institutions across North America. Inside Higher Ed

BC university leaders call for greater health promotion by PSE

“Universities and colleges have a unique capacity and responsibility to promote health and well-being,” say UBC President Arvind Gupta and UBC Okanagan Vice-Chancellor Deborah Buszard. The two leaders add that PSE institutions must rise to the challenge of creating healthier environments. Drawing on last month’s International Congress on Health Promoting Universities and Colleges, Gupta and Buszard reflect on specific calls to action that can help postsecondary institutions ensure that graduates “understand the foundations of health and well-being and are prepared, whatever their life paths, to make the best choices for themselves, their families and communities.” University Affairs

Questioning the need for a university in the North

In response to the recently renewed push for a university in Canada’s Arctic, Heather Exner-Pirot, Strategist for Outreach and Indigenous Engagement at the University of Saskatchewan, questions whether a stand-alone university would be the best way to increase education levels in the North. In a recent post for Eye on the Arctic, Exner-Pirot suggests that a northern university would likely be funded at the expense of other social programs, and that due to the geographic realities of the territories it would not necessarily be more accessible or affordable for northerners. She concludes that a better return on investment in the short- to mid-term would be to improve accessibility to existing programs outside of the North while expanding the degree programs available through northern colleges. Exner-Pirot also notes that improving high school graduation rates among First Nations, Métis, and Inuit youth is an important precondition to university-level educational attainment. Alaska Dispatch News

SFU saves 40% network bandwidth by blocking ads

Researchers at Simon Fraser University have released a report showing that the school saved between 25% and 40% of its network bandwidth by implementing the Adblock Plus software. According to the report, a team of 100 volunteers tested the software over a six-week period to determine that it saved significant amounts of bandwidth by blocking web-based advertisements and video trailers on the school’s internal network. Researchers also concluded that the saved bandwidth would lead to significant reductions in computer infrastructure and energy costs. TechWeek Europe | SFU | Full Study

Purdue takes steps to develop $10 digital textbooks

Purdue University has taken steps to lower textbook costs by having its professors publish their own course-based books through online portals. The move has reduced the cost of at least one course’s textbook requirements from $160 to $10. It also allows professors to continuously update their materials and immediately have these updates reflected on students’ devices. The project is currently in its pilot phase, with the university offering a stipend of several thousand dollars to faculty who take part. Campus Technology

Finishing bachelor’s degree could have prevented 110,000 deaths, says study

Finishing a high school diploma can help avert as many deaths as quitting smoking, according to researchers at the University of Colorado, New York University, and the University of North Carolina. A recent report from the three schools accessed data from one million people between 1986 and 2006 and found correlations to suggest that over 145,000 deaths could have been postponed if many had finished their high school diploma or GED. Further, close to 110,000 deaths may have been avoided if individuals with some college had gone on to finish their bachelor’s degree. The report attributes the lower mortality rates to the healthier behaviour, enhanced cognitive performance, higher income, and overall psychological well-being that reportedly come from having a higher educational level. Science World | USA Today | Full Study